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#401 2018-08-06 00:56:08

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

367) Carl David Anderson


Carl David Anderson, (born Sept. 3, 1905, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died Jan. 11, 1991, San Marino, Calif.), American physicist who, with Victor Francis Hess of Austria, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1936 for his discovery of the positron, or positive electron, the first known particle of antimatter.

Anderson received his Ph.D. in 1930 from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, where he worked with physicist Robert Andrews Millikan. Having studied X-ray photoelectrons (electrons ejected from atoms by interaction with high-energy photons) since 1927, he began research in 1930 on gamma rays and cosmic rays. While studying cloud-chamber photographs of cosmic rays, Anderson found a number of tracks whose orientation suggested that they were caused by positively charged particles—but particles too small to be protons. In 1932 he announced that they were caused by positrons, positively charged particles with the same mass as electrons. The claim was controversial until verified the next year by British physicist Patrick M.S. Blackett and Italian Giuseppe Occhialini.

In 1936 Anderson discovered the mu-meson, or muon, a subatomic particle 207 times heavier than the electron. At first he thought he had found the meson, postulated by the Japanese physicist Jukawa Hideki, that binds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of the atom, but the muon was found to interact weakly with these particles. (The particle predicted by Yukawa was discovered in 1947 by the British physicist Cecil Powell and is known as a pi-meson, or pion.)

Anderson spent his entire career at Caltech, joining the faculty in 1933 and serving as professor until 1976. During World War II he conducted research on rockets.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#402 2018-08-08 01:07:56

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

368) Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi, (born March 10, 1628, Crevalcore, near Bologna, Papal States [Italy]—died Nov. 30, 1694, Rome), Italian physician and biologist who, in developing experimental methods to study living things, founded the science of microscopic anatomy. After Malpighi’s researches, microscopic anatomy became a prerequisite for advances in the fields of physiology, embryology, and practical medicine.

Life

Little is known of Malpighi’s childhood and youth except that his father had him engage in “grammatical studies” at an early age and that he entered the University of Bologna in 1646. Both parents died when he was 21, but he was able, nevertheless, to continue his studies. Despite opposition from the university authorities because he was non-Bolognese by birth, in 1653 he was granted doctorates in both medicine and philosophy and appointed as a teacher, whereupon he immediately dedicated himself to further study in anatomy and medicine.

In 1656, Ferdinand II of Tuscany invited him to the professorship of theoretical medicine at the University of Pisa. There Malpighi began his lifelong friendship with Giovanni Borelli, mathematician and naturalist, who was a prominent supporter of the Accademia del Cimento, one of the first scientific societies. Malpighi questioned the prevailing medical teachings at Pisa, tried experiments on colour changes in blood, and attempted to recast anatomical, physiological, and medical problems of the day. Family responsibilities and poor health prompted Malpighi’s return in 1659 to the University of Bologna, where he continued to teach and do research with his microscopes. In 1661 he identified and described the pulmonary and capillary network connecting small arteries with small veins, one of the major discoveries in the history of science. Malpighi’s views evoked increasing controversy and dissent, mainly from envy, jealousy, and lack of understanding on the part of his colleagues.

Hindered by the hostile environment of Bologna, Malpighi accepted (November 1662) a professorship in medicine at the University of Messina in Sicily, on the recommendation there of Borelli, who was investigating the effects of physical forces on animal functions. Malpighi was also welcomed by Visconte Giacomo Ruffo Francavilla, a patron of science and a former student, whose hospitality encouraged him in furthering his career. Malpighi pursued his microscopic studies while teaching and practicing medicine. He identified the taste buds and regarded them as terminations of nerves, described the minute structure of the brain, optic nerve, and fat reservoirs, and in 1666 was the first to see the red blood cells and to attribute the colour of blood to them. Again, his research and teaching aroused envy and controversy among his colleagues.

After four years at Messina, Malpighi returned in January 1667 to Bologna, where, during his medical practice, he studied the microscopic subdivisions of specific living organs, such as the liver, brain, spleen, and kidneys, and of bone and the deeper layers of the skin that now bear his name. Impressed by the minute structures he observed under the microscope, he concluded that most living materials are glandular in organization, that even the largest organs are composed of minute glands, and that these glands exist solely for the separation or for the mixture of juices.

Malpighi’s work at Messina attracted the attention of the Royal Society in London, whose secretary, Henry Oldenburg, extended him an invitation in 1668 to correspond with him. Malpighi’s work was thereafter published periodically in the form of letters in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. In 1669 Malpighi was named an honorary member, the first such recognition given to an Italian. From then on, all his works were published in London.

At the peak of his fame, Malpighi could have left his tiring medical practice and research to accept one of the many highly remunerative positions offered to him. Instead, he chose to continue his general practice and professorship. His years at Bologna marked the climax of his career, when he marked out large areas of microscopy. Malpighi conducted many studies of insect larvae - establishing, in so doing, the basis for their future study - the most important of which was his investigation in 1669 of the structure and development of the silkworm. In his historic work in 1673 on the embryology of the chick, in which he discovered the aortic arches, neural folds, and somites, he generally followed William Harvey’s views on development, though Malpighi probably concluded that the embryo is preformed in the egg after fertilization. He also made extensive comparative studies in 1675-79 of the microscopic anatomy of several different plants and saw an analogy between plant and animal organization.

During the last decade of his life Malpighi was beset by personal tragedy, declining health, and the climax of opposition to him. In 1684 his villa was burned, his apparatus and microscopes shattered, and his papers, books, and manuscripts destroyed. Most probably as a compensatory move when opposition mounted against his views, and in recognition of his stature, Pope Innocent XII invited him to Rome in 1691 as papal archiater, or personal physician, such a nomination constituting a great honour. In Rome he was further honoured by being named a count, he was elected to the College of Doctors of Medicine, his name was placed in the Roman Patriciate Roll, and he was given the title of honorary valet.

Legacy

Malpighi may be regarded as the first histologist. For almost 40 years he used the microscope to describe the major types of plant and animal structures and in so doing marked out for future generations of biologists major areas of research in botany, embryology, human anatomy, and pathology. Just as Galileo had applied the new technical achievement of the optical lens to vistas beyond the Earth, Malpighi extended its use to the intricate organization of living things, hitherto unimagined, below the level of unaided sight. Moreover, his lifework brought into question the prevailing concepts of body function. When, for example, he found that the blood passed through the capillaries, it meant that Harvey was right, that blood was not transformed into flesh in the periphery, as the ancients thought. He was vigorously denounced by his enemies, who failed to see how his many discoveries, such as the renal glomeruli, urinary tubules, dermal papillae, taste buds, and the glandular components of the liver, could possibly improve medical practice. The conflict between ancient ideas and modern discoveries continued throughout the 17th century. Although Malpighi could not say what new remedies might come from his discoveries, he was convinced that microscopic anatomy, by showing the minute construction of living things, called into question the value of old medicine. He provided the anatomical basis for the eventual understanding of human physiological exchanges.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#403 2018-08-10 00:15:36

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

369) Sir Charles Scott Sherrington

Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, (born Nov. 27, 1857, London, Eng. - died March 4, 1952, Eastbourne, Sussex), English physiologist whose 50 years of experimentation laid the foundations for an understanding of integrated nervous function in higher animals and brought him (with Edgar Adrian) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1932.

Sherrington was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (B.A., 1883); at St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, where he qualified in medicine in 1885; and at the University of Berlin, where he worked with Rudolf Virchow and Robert Koch. After serving as a lecturer at St. Thomas’ Hospital, he was successively a professor at the universities of London (1891 - 95), Liverpool (1895 - 1913), and Oxford (1913 - 35). He was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1893 and served as its president from 1920 to 1925. He was knighted in 1922.

Working with cats, dogs, monkeys, and apes that had been deprived of their cerebral hemispheres, Sherrington found that reflexes must be regarded as integrated activities of the total organism, not as the result of the activities of isolated “reflex arcs,” a notion that was currently accepted. The first major piece of evidence supporting “total integration” was his demonstration (1895–98) of the “reciprocal innervation” of muscles, also known as Sherrington’s law: when one set of muscles is stimulated, muscles opposing the action of the first are simultaneously inhibited.

In his classic work, 'The Integrative Action of the Nervous System' (1906), he distinguished three main groups of sense organs: exteroceptive, such as those that detect light, sound, odour, and tactile stimuli; interoceptive, exemplified by taste receptors; and proprioceptive, or those receptors that detect events occurring in the interior of the organism. He found - especially in his study of the maintenance of posture as a reflex activit - that the muscles’ proprioceptors and their nerve trunks play an important role in reflex action, maintaining the animal’s upright stance against the force of gravity, despite the removal of the cerebrum and the severing of the tactile sensory nerves of the skin.

His investigations of nearly every aspect of mammalian nervous function directly influenced the development of brain surgery and the treatment of such nervous disorders as paralysis and atrophy. Sherrington coined the term 'synapse' to denote the point at which the nervous impulse is transmitted from one nerve cell to another. His books include 'The Reflex Activity of the Spinal Cord' (1932).

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#404 2018-08-12 01:49:32

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

370) Ottmar Mergenthaler

Ottmar Mergenthaler, (born May 11, 1854, Hachtel, Württemberg [Germany]—died Oct. 28, 1899, Baltimore), German-born American inventor who developed the Linotype machine.

A precocious boy, Mergenthaler was anxious to study engineering, but his father, burdened with financing the higher education of older sons, found the expense beyond his means. He was apprenticed to a watchmaker at age 14 and attended technical school classes at night. In 1872 he emigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1878. While employed in the Baltimore machine shop of a relative, he worked on plans for a device to make type molds of papier-mâché. This device proved impracticable, but Mergenthaler became dedicated to the problem involved—setting type by machine. In 1886 he produced his Linotype, which, by bringing copper matrices into brief contact with a molten but fast-cooling alloy, rapidly molded column widths of type. The machine reduced costs by speeding up the printing process; hence it fostered a dramatic expansion of all areas of publishing. Mergenthaler later patented other successful inventions, but developing the Linotype remained his life interest.

(Linotype, (trademark), typesetting machine by which characters are cast in type metal as a complete line rather than as individual characters as on the Monotype typesetting machine. It was patented in the United States in 1884 by Ottmar Mergenthaler. Linotype, which has now largely been supplanted by photocomposition, was most often used when large amounts of straight text matter were to be set.

In the Linotype system, the operator selects a magazine containing brass matrices to mold an entire font of type of the size and face specified in the copy at hand. A keyboard is manipulated (or driven by paper or magnetic computer tape) to select the matrices needed to compose each line of text, including tapered spacebands, which automatically wedge the words apart to fill each line perfectly. Each matrix is transported to an assembling unit at the mold.

The slugs produced by the machine are rectangular solids of type metal (an alloy of lead, antimony, and tin) as long as the line or column measure selected. Raised characters running along the top are a mirror image of the desired printed line. After hot-metal casting, a distributing mechanism returns each matrix to its place in the magazine. The slug of type, air-cooled briefly, is then placed in a “stick” for insertion in the proper position into the press form being assembled or made up.)

OttmarMergenthaler.jpg


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#405 2018-08-14 01:32:49

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

371) Sir Edward Mellanby

Born    : 8 April 1884 : West Hartlepool
Died    : 30 January 1955 (aged 70)
Alma mater : Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Spouse(s) : May Tweedy (married 1914)

Sir Edward Mellanby, (8 April 1884 – 30 January 1955)  discovered vitamin D and its role in preventing rickets in 1919.

Education

Mellanby was born in West Hartlepool, the son of a shipyard owner, and educated at Barnard Castle School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he studied physiology.

Career

After working as a research student from 1905 to 1907, Mellanby studied medicine at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, and in 1913 became a medical doctor. He served as a lecturer at King's College for Women in London from 1913 to 1920, during which time he was asked to investigate the cause of rickets. He discovered that feeding caged dogs on a diet of porridge induced rickets, which could then be cured with cod liver oil and concluded that rickets was caused by a dietary factor. It was later discovered that the actual cause of rickets is lack of vitamin D due to lack of sunlight which can be prevented or remedied by ingesting food rich in vitamin D, such as cod liver oil.

He worked on the detrimental effect of foods containing significant phytic acid, particularly cereals.

In 1914 he married May Tweedy, a lecturer at Bedford College (London) who would also carry out research into nutrition and dental disease.

In 1920 he was appointed professor of pharmacology at the University of Sheffield, and consultant physician at the Royal Infirmary in that city. He then served as the secretary of the Medical Research Council from 1933 to 1949.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1925.  He was awarded their Royal Medal in 1932 and their Buchanan Medal in 1947.

He delivered the Croonian Lecture to the Royal College of Physicians in 1933 and the Croonian lecture to the Royal Society in 1943, both on the subject of diet.

He was knighted (KCB) in 1937 and made GBE in 1948.

Publications include Nutrition and Disease – the Interaction of Clinical and Experimental Work (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934). In the work, he writes extensively on vitamin deficiency. He delivered the Harveian Oration to the Royal College of Physicians in 1938.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#406 2018-08-16 01:13:20

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

372) Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman, in full Richard Phillips Feynman, (born May 11, 1918, New York, New York, U.S.—died February 15, 1988, Los Angeles, California), American theoretical physicist who was widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era.

Feynman remade quantum electrodynamics—the theory of the interaction between light and matter—and thus altered the way science understands the nature of waves and particles. He was co-awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for this work, which tied together in an experimentally perfect package all the varied phenomena at work in light, radio, electricity, and magnetism. The other cowinners of the Nobel Prize, Julian S. Schwinger of the United States and Tomonaga Shin’ichirō of Japan, had independently created equivalent theories, but it was Feynman’s that proved the most original and far-reaching. The problem-solving tools that he invented—including pictorial representations of particle interactions known as Feynman diagrams—permeated many areas of theoretical physics in the second half of the 20th century.

Born in the Far Rockaway section of New York City, Feynman was the descendant of Russian and Polish Jews who had immigrated to the United States late in the 19th century. He studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his undergraduate thesis (1939) proposed an original and enduring approach to calculating forces in molecules. Feynman received his doctorate at Princeton University in 1942. At Princeton, with his adviser, John Archibald Wheeler, he developed an approach to quantum mechanics governed by the principle of least action. This approach replaced the wave-oriented electromagnetic picture developed by James Clerk Maxwell with one based entirely on particle interactions mapped in space and time. In effect, Feynman’s method calculated the probabilities of all the possible paths a particle could take in going from one point to another.

During World War II Feynman was recruited to serve as a staff member of the U.S. atomic bomb project at Princeton University (1941–42) and then at the new secret laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico (1943–45). At Los Alamos he became the youngest group leader in the theoretical division of the Manhattan Project. With the head of that division, Hans Bethe, he devised the formula for predicting the energy yield of a nuclear explosive. Feynman also took charge of the project’s primitive computing effort, using a hybrid of new calculating machines and human workers to try to process the vast amounts of numerical computation required by the project. He observed the first detonation of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, and, though his initial reaction was euphoric, he later felt anxiety about the force he and his colleagues had helped unleash on the world.

At war’s end Feynman became an associate professor at Cornell University (1945–50) and returned to studying the fundamental issues of quantum electrodynamics. In the years that followed, his vision of particle interaction kept returning to the forefront of physics as scientists explored esoteric new domains at the subatomic level. In 1950 he became professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he remained the rest of his career.

Five particular achievements of Feynman stand out as crucial to the development of modern physics. First, and most important, is his work in correcting the inaccuracies of earlier formulations of quantum electrodynamics, the theory that explains the interactions between electromagnetic radiation (photons) and charged subatomic particles such as electrons and positrons (antielectrons). By 1948 Feynman completed this reconstruction of a large part of quantum mechanics and electrodynamics and resolved the meaningless results that the old quantum electrodynamic theory sometimes produced. Second, he introduced simple diagrams, now called Feynman diagrams, that are easily visualized graphic analogues of the complicated mathematical expressions needed to describe the behaviour of systems of interacting particles. This work greatly simplified some of the calculations used to observe and predict such interactions.

In the early 1950s Feynman provided a quantum-mechanical explanation for the Soviet physicist Lev D. Landau’s theory of superfluidity—i.e., the strange, frictionless behaviour of liquid helium at temperatures near absolute zero. In 1958 he and the American physicist Murray Gell-Mann devised a theory that accounted for most of the phenomena associated with the weak force, which is the force at work in radioactive decay. Their theory, which turns on the asymmetrical “handedness” of particle spin, proved particularly fruitful in modern particle physics. And finally, in 1968, while working with experimenters at the Stanford Linear Accelerator on the scattering of high-energy electrons by protons, Feynman invented a theory of “partons,” or hypothetical hard particles inside the nucleus of the atom, that helped lead to the modern understanding of quarks.

Feynman’s stature among physicists transcended the sum of even his sizable contributions to the field. His bold and colourful personality, unencumbered by false dignity or notions of excessive self-importance, seemed to announce: “Here is an unconventional mind.” He was a master calculator who could create a dramatic impression in a group of scientists by slashing through a difficult numerical problem. His purely intellectual reputation became a part of the scenery of modern science. Feynman diagrams, Feynman integrals, and Feynman rules joined Feynman stories in the everyday conversation of physicists. They would say of a promising young colleague, “He’s no Feynman, but….” His fellow physicists envied his flashes of inspiration and admired him for other qualities as well: a faith in nature’s simple truths, a skepticism about official wisdom, and an impatience with mediocrity.

Feynman’s lectures at Caltech evolved into the books 'Quantum Electrodynamics' (1961) and 'The Theory of Fundamental Processes' (1961). In 1961 he began reorganizing and teaching the introductory physics course at Caltech; the result, published as The Feynman Lectures on Physics, 3 vol. (1963–65), became a classic textbook. Feynman’s views on quantum mechanics, scientific method, the relations between science and religion, and the role of beauty and uncertainty in scientific knowledge are expressed in two models of science writing, again distilled from lectures: 'The Character of Physical Law' (1965) and 'QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter' (1985).

When Feynman died in 1988 after a long struggle with cancer, his reputation was still mainly confined to the scientific community; his was not a household name. Many Americans had seen him for the first time when, already ill, he served on the presidential commission that investigated the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. He conducted a dramatic demonstration at a televised hearing, confronting an evasive NASA witness by dunking a piece of rubber seal in a glass of ice water to show how predictable the failure of the booster rocket’s rubber seal might have been on the freezing morning of Challenger’s launch. He added his own appendix to the commission’s report, emphasizing the space agency’s failures of risk management.

He achieved a growing popular fame after his death, in part because of two autobiographical collections of anecdotes published in the years around his passing, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: 'Adventures of a Curious Character' (1985) and “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”: 'Further Adventures of a Curious Character' (1988), which irritated some of his colleagues by emphasizing his bongo playing more than his technical accomplishments. Other popular books appeared posthumously, including 'Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher' (1994) and 'Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time' (1997), and his life was celebrated in an opera (Feynman [2005], by Jack Vees), a graphic novel (Feynman [2011], by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick), and a play (QED [2001], by Peter Parnell), the latter of which was commissioned by and starred Alan Alda.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#407 2018-08-18 00:13:44

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

373) Pierre Janssen

Pierre Janssen, in full Pierre Jules César Janssen, also called Jules Janssen, (born February 22, 1824, Paris, France—died December 23, 1907, Meudon), French astronomer who in 1868 discovered the chemical element helium and how to observe solar prominences without an eclipse. His work was independent of that of the Englishman Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, who made the same discoveries at about the same time.

Janssen was permanently lamed by an accident in early childhood. He initially worked as a bank clerk. He graduated from the University of Paris in 1852, and in 1865 he became professor of physics at the École Speciale d’Architecture in Paris. He was an enthusiastic observer of eclipses.

While observing a solar eclipse in Guntur, India, on August 18, 1868, Janssen noted that the spectral lines in the solar prominences were so bright that they should be easily observable in daylight. The next day he used his spectroscope to study the solar prominences. That enabled many more such observations to be made than previously, when such phenomena had been observable only for the few minutes’ duration of solar eclipses. During his observations he also noted a yellow spectral line near, but distinct from, the prominent lines of sodium. That line was from helium, which was not observed on Earth until 1895.

In 1870, when Paris was besieged during the Franco-German War, Janssen fled the surrounded city in a balloon so that he could reach the path of totality of a solar eclipse in Algeria. (His effort went for nothing, for the eclipse was obscured by clouds.) In 1873 he invented the “photographic revolver,” a device designed to take 180 images at the rate of one frame per second. The revolver was used by Janssen in Japan to observe the 1874 transit of Venus and is considered a precursor of the motion-picture camera. In 1876 he was appointed the first director of the Meudon Observatory, near Paris. In 1893, using observations from the meteorological observatory he had established on Mont Blanc, he proved that strong oxygen lines appearing in the solar spectrum were caused by oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

Janssen was the first to regularly use photographs to study the Sun, and in 1903 he published his great 'Atlas de photographies solaires', containing more than 6,000 solar pictures.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#408 Today 00:34:31

ganesh
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Re: crème de la crème

374) Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton, (born November 14, 1765, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania [U.S.]—died February 24, 1815, New York, New York), American inventor, engineer, and artist who brought steamboating from the experimental stage to commercial success. He also designed a system of inland waterways, a submarine, and a steam warship.

Fulton was the son of Irish immigrants. When their unproductive farm was lost by mortgage foreclosure in 1771, the family moved to Lancaster, where Fulton’s father died in 1774 (not 1786 as is generally written). Having learned to read and write at home, Fulton was sent at age eight to a Quaker school. Later he became an apprentice in a Philadelphia jewelry shop, where he specialized in the painting of miniature portraits on ivory for lockets and rings.

After settling his mother on a small farm in western Pennsylvania in 1786, Fulton went to Bath, Virginia, to recover from a severe cough. There the paintings by the young man—tall, graceful, and an engaging conversationalist—were admired by people who advised him to study in Europe. On returning to Philadelphia, Fulton applied himself to painting and the search for a sponsor. Local merchants, eager to raise the city’s cultural level, financed his passage to London in 1787.

Although Fulton’s reception in London was cordial, his paintings made little impression; they showed neither the style nor the promise required to provide him more than a precarious living. Meanwhile, he became acquainted with new inventions for propelling boats: a water jet ejected by a steam pump and a single, mechanical paddle. His own experiments led him to conclude that several revolving paddles at the stern would be most effective.

Beginning in 1794, however, having admitted defeat as a painter, Fulton turned his principal efforts toward canal engineering. His Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation, in 1796, dealt with a complete system of inland water transportation based on small canals extending throughout the countryside. He included details on inclined planes for raising boats—he did not favour locks—aqueducts for valley crossings, boats for specialized cargo, and bridge designs featuring bowstring beams to transmit only vertical loads to the piers. A few bridges were built to his design in the British Isles, but his canal ideas were nowhere accepted.

Undaunted, he traveled in 1797 to Paris, where he proposed the idea of a submarine, the Nautilus, to be used in France’s war with Britain: it would creep under the hulls of British warships and leave a powder charge to be exploded later. The French government rejected the idea, however, as an atrocious and dishonourable way to fight. In 1800 he was able to build the Nautilus at his own expense. He conducted trials on the Seine and finally obtained government sanction for an attack, but wind and tide enabled two British ships to elude his slow vessel.

In 1801 Fulton met Robert R. Livingston, a member of the committee that drafted the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Before becoming minister to France, Livingston had obtained a 20-year monopoly of steamboat navigation within the state of New York. The two men decided to share the expense of building a steamboat in Paris using Fulton’s design—a 66-foot- (20-metre-) long boat with an eight-horsepower engine of French design and side paddle wheels. Although the engine broke the hull, they were encouraged by success with another hull. Fulton ordered parts for a 24-horsepower engine from Boulton and Watt for a boat on the Hudson, and Livingston obtained an extension on his monopoly of steamboat navigation.

Returning to London in 1804, Fulton advanced his ideas with the British government for submersible and low-lying craft that would carry explosives in an attack. Two raids against the French using his novel craft, however, were unsuccessful. In 1805, after Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar, it was apparent that Britain was in control of the seas without the aid of Fulton’s temperamental weapons. In the same year, the parts for his projected steamboat were ready for shipment to the United States, but Fulton spent a desperate year attempting to collect money he felt the British owed him.

Arriving in New York in December 1806, Fulton at once set to work supervising the construction of the steamboat that had been planned in Paris with Livingston. He also attempted to interest the U.S. government in a submarine, but his demonstration of it was a fiasco. By early August 1807 a 150-foot- (45-metre-) long Steamboat, as Fulton called it, was ready for trials. Its single-cylinder condensing steam engine (24-inch bore and four-foot stroke) drove two 15-foot-diameter side paddle wheels; it consumed oak and pine fuel, which produced steam at a pressure of two to three pounds per square inch. The 150-mile (240-km) trial run from New York to Albany required 32 hours (an average of almost 4.7 miles [7.6 km] per hour), considerably better time than the four miles per hour required by the monopoly. The passage was epic because sailing sloops required four days for the same trip.

After building an engine house, raising the bulwark, and installing berths in the cabins of the now-renamed North River Steamboat, Fulton began commercial trips in September. He made three round trips fortnightly between New York and Albany, carrying passengers and light freight. Problems, however, remained: the mechanical difficulties, for example, and the jealous sloop boatmen, who through “inadvertence” would ram the unprotected paddle wheels of their new rivals. During the first winter season he stiffened and widened the hull, replaced the cast-iron crankshaft with a forging, fitted guards over the wheels, and improved passenger accommodations. These modifications made it a different boat, which was registered in 1808 as the North River Steamboat of Clermont, soon reduced to Clermont by the press.

In 1808 Fulton married his partner’s niece, Harriet Livingston, by whom he had a son and three daughters.

In 1811 the Fulton-designed, Pittsburgh-built New Orleans was sent south to validate the Livingston-Fulton steamboat monopoly of the New Orleans Territory. The trip was slow and perilous, river conditions being desperate because of America’s first recorded, and also largest, earthquake, which had destroyed New Madrid just below the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Fulton’s low-powered vessel remained at New Orleans, for it could go no farther upstream than Natchez. He built three boats for Western rivers that were based at New Orleans, but none could conquer the passage to Pittsburgh.

Fulton was a member of the 1812 commission that recommended building the Erie Canal. With the English blockade the same year, he insisted that a mobile floating gun platform be built—the world’s first steam warship—to protect New York Harbor against the British fleet. The Demologos, or Fulton, as the ship was alternately called, incorporated new and novel ideas: two parallel hulls, with paddle wheel between and with the steam engine in one hull and boilers and stacks in the other. It weighed 2,745 displacement tons and measured 156 feet (48 metres) in length; a slow vessel, its speed did not exceed 6 knots (6 nautical miles, or 11 km, per hour). Launched in October 1814, the heavily gunned and armoured steamship underwent successful sea trials but was never used in battle; when peace came in December, it was transferred to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where it was destroyed by an accidental explosion in 1829.

Fulton spent much of his wealth in litigations involving the pirating of patents relating to steamboats and in trying to suppress rival steamboat builders who found loopholes in the state-granted monopoly. His wealth was further depleted by his unsuccessful submarine projects, investments in paintings, and financial assistance to farmer kin and young artists. After testifying at a legal hearing in Trenton early in 1815, he became chilled en route home to New York, where he died. His family made claims on the U.S. government for services rendered. A bill of $100,000 for the relief of the heirs finally passed the Congress in 1846 but was reduced to $76,300, with no interest.

A Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909 commemorated the success of the North River Steamboat of Clermont and the discovery in 1609 of the North River by the English navigator who was the first to sail upstream to Albany. A “Robert Fulton” commemorative stamp was issued in 1965, the bicentenary of his birth, and the two-story farmhouse, his birthplace, was acquired and restored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

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It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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